Slate’s Jacob Leibenluft has an “explanation” about how locomotive engineers get in the position to drive trains.

They pass knowledge and skills tests. The government doesn’t issue laminated driver’s licenses to locomotive engineers; instead, each railroad must determine its own procedure for certifying the engineers in accordance with these federal rules. Since most engineers start out as conductors, they begin their training with a decent knowledge about railroad safety. Federal law requires that new engineers take classes on the basics of how a train operates and spend a “significant portion of time”—usually more than 120 hours—behind the controls of a locomotive while under supervision. In addition, prospective engineers are screened to make sure their vision and hearing is in order and that they don’t have a substance-abuse problem.

Now I’m curious how Link drivers learn – the photo above is a link driver, not a heavy rail driver. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

8 Replies to “How to Learn to Drive Trains”

  1. are the camera monitors (one on each side of the driver) equipment for training? or will they be there when revenue ops begin?

    1. I’m assuming they will be there during revenue ops. Sure beats having to stick one’s head out the window to see if people have cleared the boarding portion of the platform and the train can depart.

      Whenever I’ve taken BART in the bay (which is almost entireley computer controlled) during rush hour, operators often have to open their window and look back to ensure that people have cleared boarding portion so the train can safely depart without giving someone a free ride…I would think monitors would help link operators especially since they seem to be mounted higher than the operators field of view if they looked out the side.

  2. from the look of this image and the other image in the FLICKR pool of the other side of the cab … the cameras are pointing more or less back and down …

    I think it is a good idea … I was just curious if it was test equipment for checking clearances or standard equipment

  3. from observation on light rail in other cities – the camera monitor is instead of a rear view mirror, and can switch to a view of the doors if required.

  4. Maybe they have operators in training do loops around the yard or have a real driving console attached to a computer simulating the train.

    Has anybody here ever played train simulation software? There’s Microsoft Train Simulator and a great free one called BVE Trainsim. I’ve tried driving the Northern Line on the London Underground in BVE and it’s harder than I thought. I keep overshooting the end of the platform.

    With some effort and information we can create a Link simulation, complete with accurate scenery, signals, and cab interior.

  5. The cameras on Link are the mirrors. If I remember correctly, these “mirrors” can also display the interior of the train.

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